Work is officially starting on the Newlands Cross flyover and the N11 Arklow to Rathnew dual carriageway road projects after Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar turned the sod on both schemes.
Both projects will make a huge difference to motorists, with the N7 removing the last traffic light between Cork and the outskirts of Belfast, and the N11 dual carriageway removing the last bottleneck between Dublin and Rathnew and providing an important new service area.
It also means that the first Public Private Partnership project for a road to be signed since 2007 is now officially underway, in an important signal for economic recovery.
“These are two very important projects which will make a big difference to road users in Dublin and the east of the country. They will remove two serious bottlenecks which have caused untold delays to commuters, hauliers and road users over the years. The financing of these projects also represents a breakthrough for the Government in terms of new funding for roads,” Minister Varadkar said.
“The N7 flyover at Newlands Cross will remove the last set of traffic lights between the outskirts of Belfast and the Dunkettle roundabout in Cork. To give an idea of the difference this will make, some 80,000 vehicles pass through Newlands Cross every day. And the N11 will end the last stretch of single carriageway between Arklow and Rathnew, replacing the dangerous and winding road with high-spec dual carriageway and the added bonus of a new service and rest area.”
The contractor BAM Civil Ltd (BAM PPP & PGGM Infrastructure Cooperatie) will start work on both projects within a matter of days, and construction is expected to take two years.
Mayor of South Dublin County Council Cllr Cathal King said: “I think it is important for me to record here today that this project demonstrates the enormous benefits of the continuing investment in the National Road Network. For many years we were associated with the traffic issues of the Red Cow Interchange but today such issues no longer exist as a direct result of the significant investment made in the road network.”
Pat Casey, Chairman of Wicklow County Council said: “This is a very important project from a road safety perspective and a vital link in regional connectivity that will assist greatly in future economic development.”
Kathleen Codd Nolan, Chairperson of Wexford County Council said: “This project assists greatly in linking Wexford to Dublin City and onwards to the entire national motorway network. Additionally, it highlights the importance of the continued investment required to improve and upgrade roads in County Wexford.”
Fred Barry, CEO of the National Roads Authority said: “We are very pleased with the commencements of works at N7 Newlands Cross Junction and at the N11 Arklow to Rathnew. It is five years since we last started the construction of a large scale improvement scheme. The Government has committed to fund a number of road PPP schemes and we look forward to this being the first of a revitalised programme of major improvement works. I would like acknowledge the effort put forth by all those involved and look forward to the completion of this scheme.”
Funding of more than €150 million has been provided under a Public Private Partnership scheme including an input from the European Investment Bank and Bank of Ireland, and a credit facility from the National Pension Reserve Fund.
N7 Newlands Cross Upgrade
This comprises a flyover at the junction between N7 Naas Road and the R113 Fonthill/Belgard Roads at Newlands Cross. This flyover will take N7 traffic up and over the R113 Fonthill/Belgard Road, thus minimising local traffic impact. Traffic signals will be installed at the two points where the ramps meet the local roads, with dedicated turning lanes provided for the Belgard/Fonthill Road. Some 80,000 vehicles pass through Newlands Cross every day.
The existing Newlands Cross junction located in South County Dublin is the sole remaining signalised traffic junction on the entire N7/M7 route. The Newlands Cross Junction Upgrade will provide a continuous free flowing route between the M50 Red Cow interchange and Limerick City, Cork City, Kilkenny City and Waterford City.
N11 Arklow to Rathnew dual carriageway and service area
This consists of 16.5km of new dual carriageway, along with associated link roads and junctions. It will connect the existing N11 Arklow Bypass with the existing N11 Rathnew/Ashford Bypass creating motorway/dual carriageway from Dublin to Gorey. It will also include the construction of a service area on the N11-Northbound, just north of Gorey, with direct access from the N11-Southbound via an overpass.
The N11 is a strategic link in the national road network as part of the eastern road corridor between Dublin and Rosslare, and is also part of Euro-route E1. The existing N11 is characterised by a range of road types, road widths and qualities, which reflect the staged development of sections of the road over time. The existing N11 between Rathnew and Arklow is currently single carriageway with a narrow cross section, poor overtaking opportunities and no hard shoulder over the northern half, and a wider cross section again with limited safe overtaking opportunities over the southern half. The route does not have a good road safety record, and there are numerous existing side road and private access junctions along its length. The existing Arklow Bypass to the south is of a dual carriageway standard, and the Rathnew/Ashford Bypass scheme to the north is also of dual carriageway standard.
The primary purpose of the proposed Gorey North Service Area is to provide fuel and rest facilities on a 24 hour basis on the N11 national primary route in order to aid interurban and long distance travel. This will assist the road safety campaign put forward by the Road Safety Authority and contribute to reduction of driver fatigue and accidents on the national primary road network by providing rest and refreshment facilities. It will also provide facilities for Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCV) drivers to park up and take their required resting periods.